NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX – This weekend the Wichita Falls Wildcats are in town and this time, it’s for real.
Back in the early days of September the Brahmas swept the ‘Cats in a pre-season home-and-home series with blowout victories. However, to say either team is identical to what we saw just a month and a half ago would be drastically wrong.
GOALTENDING: To begin, the starting goaltenders for the Brahmas in those two exhibition games were Gunner Rivers and Darion Hanson. Neither of the two is on the Brahmas roster anymore, as both have been traded to other NAHL teams. The Wildcats too started a goaltender on one of the night’s that is no longer on their team.
In the two games, the Brahmas tallied 11 goals. Since the regular season has started, the Wildcats are only allowing an average of just above two goals per game. A large credit to the significant decrease can be accredited to a young man by the name of Justin Kapelmaster. Wichita Falls received the goaltender from Tri-City of the USHL and he has owned the spotlight ever since. Kapelmaster enters this weekend at a perfect 7-0-0, ranking first in wins, tied for second in save percentage (SV%) and fourth in goals against average (GAA).
At the other end of the ice, Conor O’Brien holds impressive numbers as well. The Pinellas Park, FL raised goaltender currently has wins in three out of four starts, the league’s third best goals against average, and ninth best save percentage. “OB” has been splitting time in the crease with Corbin Kaczperski, who was picked up at the NAHL Showcase by the Brahmas. Kaczperski at the moment stands at 2-1-1 but most recently held the Amarillo Bulls to one goal en route to a win during the Brahmas home opening weekend.
WICHITA FALLS OFFENSE AWOKEN: Since Kapelmaster’s appearance, the Wildcats offense has followed suit in stepping up as well. A south division leading 48 goals in just 11 games makes their the team the furthest thing from just a defensive enigma. Miami (OH) commit Ben Lown leads the charge for Wichita Falls with 15 points and immediately following him is Austin Albrecht, who has 11 points in just nine games played. Both Lown and Albrecht have scored in all but one game they’ve played in this season.
COMMITMENTS ON DEFENSE: Since the pre-season battles, both teams have had the honor of seeing one of their top defensemen secure a Division I scholarship. Beginning with Wichita Falls, early in October the team announced Jacob Dalton would be playing his college hockey at Bowling Green University. Dalton currently leads the team’s defense with seven points and a +9 rating. The Michigan native isn’t heading back north just quite yet though, as he’s already made it clear he will play another season of junior hockey before heading to school in 2017.
Earlier this week, Brahmas defenseman Cam Clarke published the good word of his next step to Ferris State University. Like Dalton, Clarke leads his team's defensive group in points with six assists. His on-ice vision and fluid skating ability make him a dangerous weapon on the back end for the Brahmas. Additionally, two weeks ago against Amarillo, Clarke displayed his willingness to defend his teammates as he dropped the mitts after his defense partner Sean Giles was blindsided.
Start time is scheduled for 7:35 both Friday and Saturday night here at NYTEX Sports Centre. Tickets are available online, over the phone (817-336-4ICE), or at the box office the night of. Friday night fans will recieve a poster featuring a Brahmas player, presented by Acme Brick. Saturday night is $1 Hot Dog Night.